CRANSTON- After a strong showing in the Pink Out Tournament over the weekend in which they prevailed over Johnston and Ponaganset, the West Warwick girls basketball team played their first official game of the season on Tuesday night at Cranston East. Turnovers and mental mistakes would be the story for the Wizards, as they would go on to fall to the Thunderbolts by a 60-49 final. Brooke Young provided the Wizards with the bulk of their offense on the night, finishing with 20 points, as she looked to make up in part for the fact that the team was without guard Skyla Medeiros, losing her to injury over the weekend. Maya Suggs and Taylor Enright each had 11 in the losing effort.
The first three minutes of the game were played out much differently than the remaining 29, as the Wizards got off to a fast start, grabbing an early 14-5 advantage. Brooke Young lead the way with 8 points, including a pair of back-to-back three point shots, resulting in Cranston East calling an early timeout.
From there, the Thunderbolts would catch fire, finding their own offensive rhythm and quickly making the Wizards’ strong start seem like an event from the distant past. Center Maya Caito was the frequent recipient of passes underneath the rim, as she would go on to lead the home team with 18 points by night’s end. Her significant height advantage would play a role throughout the game as well, as he was able to come up with a handful of offensive rebounds, something Wizards’ head coach Mike Francois was frustrated by, but did not blame his team for.
“Overall, I was pleased by our tremendous effort,” he would say after the game, saying that size will be an issue for his team in most of their games this year.
A 10-0 run by Cranston East eventually game them the lead at 20-18 with 4:44 left in the half, as the Wizards suddenly went cold on offense, going over three full minutes without a point.
With 3:16 remaining, Tatyana Correia completed a three-point play after being fouled by Suggs to open up the home team’s lead at 25-17, the largest lead of the game for the Thunderbolts. However, the Wizards were determined not to let the game slip away from them before the half and managed to pull to within three points at 27-24 headed into the break, thanks in part to a three-point shot by Taylor Enright inside the final minute.
It was clear from the first half that the Wizards would need to make significant adjustments to their game if they were to have a realistic chance of coming away with the win. Certain things (i.e. their lack of height) they could not control, but others, like their propensity to commit turnovers could be addressed. Unfortunately for West Warwick, the mental mistakes only continued throughout the course of the second half, making it that much more difficult for the team to cut into Cranston East’s lead.
The offense for the Wizards would be comprised nearly entirely of Suggs and Young early on, as the two would account for 19 of the team’s 25 second half points. It would not be enough, as Cranston East never surrendered the lead, opening it up to a double-digit difference shortly beyond the midway point of the second half.
West Warwick would not make things any easier on themselves, as seen after a timeout in which they turned the ball over twice in two possessions, much to the dismay of Francois. The Thunderbolts were able to take advantage, outscoring the Wizards 33-25 in the half for the 60-49 win.
“I thought everyone did a great job stepping up. Cranston East has tremendous size, but we certainly didn’t back down,” he said.
“I thought the difference in the game was a lot of silly turnovers. If you watched tonight’s game, you would never know that we practice passing each and every day.”
“If someone make a great play on a ball and picks it, I can live with that, but we were just throwing the ball to Cranston East too many times.”
Rather than dwelling on the loss too much, Francois chose to shift his focus to his team’s next game on Thursday when they take on the Avengers.
“We’ve got two days to prepare before we play East Greenwich. Hopefully we can tighten a few things up and have a few kids step up and see what happens,” he said.